What is hidradenitis suppurativa?

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic condition characterized by painful lumps under the skin. These pea-sized to marble-sized lumps often grow in places where skin rubs together, such as in the armpits, the groin or between the buttocks. The condition is also known as acne inversa, but it's more painful and disruptive to daily life than common acne. Lumps caused by hidradenitis suppurativa rupture from time to time, leaving behind wounds that drain foul-smelling pus and cause disfiguring scars.

Hidradenitis suppurativa is more common in women. It's also more likely if you smoke, have certain diseases of the bowel or have metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that occur together, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Hidradenitis suppurativa typically shows up for the first time during late adolescence and worsens over time, but it takes an average of seven years before it's correctly diagnosed and treated. However, treating hidradenitis suppurativa early can help manage symptoms and prevent new wounds from developing.

Feb. 23, 2016 See more Expert Answers